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‘Plug-and-play’ IO-Link system speeds machine set-ups

13 May, 2016

The German industrial connectivity specialist Murrelektronik claims to be the first manufacturer to implement a “plug-and-play” technology for IO-Link devices that, it says, will make it much easier and faster to set up machines and systems. The “IODD on Board” technology stores information about IO-Link-supporting devices, such as sensors and actuators, inside distributed fieldbus modules so that as soon as an IO-Link device is connected to the module, data about it can be accessed directly by PLC software tools.

Until now, whenever a new IO-Link device is added to an installation, it has had to be integrated individually into the system software. With the new technology, this tedious procedure is no longer needed because once configurations have been created they can be duplicated using copy-and-paste techniques. There is no need to set parameters by hand, or for special tools.

Murrelektronik expects the technology to appeal especially to manufacturers of serial machinery, although it also has applications in non-standard machinery where an auto-configuration mode can help to cut commissioning times.

“Series machinery manufacturers benefit because once they’ve created configurations, they can copy-and-paste them any number of times to other systems and machine controllers,” explains Jörg Krautter, Murr’s vice-president of automation.

The technology also eliminates the need to set parameters for digital I/O, with channels following control system commands.

The technology works by storing data about the IO-Link devices – such as their identity, parameters, diagnostic information and communication properties – on board the fieldbus modules in a file called an IODD (IO Device Description). This, in turn, is incorporated into the module’s GSD (General Station Description) files or, more precisely, its GSDML files, which are GSD files written in the XML format.

Murrelektronik’s vice-president of automation, Jörg Krautter (left), and its head of r&d, Bernd Waser, with one of the new IODD fieldbus modules

For users who want more flexibility, there is an “expert mode” that allows individual parameter values to be set freely with the help of a Murrelektronik IO-Link device tool. The values are displayed not only in hexadecimal form, but can also be converted into a format of the user’s choice.

Murr is offering the IODD On Board functions for its MVK Metal and Impact67 IO-Link fieldbus modules. The new modules comply with version 1.1 of the IO-Link specification and are equipped with IO-Link class A and B ports.

Another option allows IO-Link devices to be integrated via asynchronous access. This option is also available with Murr’s new Cube67 IO-Link master module.

The IO-Link communication system was established in 2006 to integrate intelligent devices, such as sensors and actuators, quickly and cost-effectively into installations. Analogue data is converted into digital data within each device and this can be transferred using standard, low-cost, unshielded cables. When an IO-Link device is replaced by an identical model, no re-parameterisation is needed. The system can also be used for remote diagnostics.

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